Can I Use A Battery Charger As A Power Supply?

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A constant power supply is very crucial in the modern world of today where technology plays a significant role in the smooth running of our day-to-day activities.

With the ever-evolving technology and constant need for a steady supply of electrical charges, more and more ways are being discovered and improvised to meet this need.

Back to the question posed by this article, ‘can I use a battery charger as a power supply?’ Well, the answer is in fact yes, a battery charger can be used as a power supply so far as it can provide a constant and appropriate voltage output for the electrical load.

The main aim of a power supply is to provide the appropriate current voltage to power an electrical appliance, equipment, or system.

It also helps to maintain a safe voltage margin, shut down current transmission in the case of an erratic power surge as well as serve as a backup store for electrical energy in the advent of a power outage to avoid an interruption.

Table Of Contents

Is  Battery Charger The Same As A Power Supply?

The words ‘POWER SUPPLY’ and ‘BATTERY CHARGER’ are often thought to mean the same thing and used interchangeably however, these terms are quite different from each other as these electrical apparatuses perform different functions.

A battery charger is a piece of equipment or device that can store electrical energy to be re-used at a later time to either supply power to an electrical load or recharge a rechargeable battery such as the ones present in our phones.

Unlike a power supply that provides a constant voltage output regardless of the voltage requirements, a battery charger provides a regulated voltage output relative to the need of the device. It charges the device rapidly initially then switches to a regulated output.

Thus, there is a decreased risk of overcharging the equipment which could be detrimental to the in-built batteries and in some cases, cause an explosion.

Another point to note is that a battery charger is limited, that is to say, it can be exhausted and run out of electrical charge and thus, requires routine recharge to store up energy for future use.

This, however, is not the case with a power supply as it gets its energy supply from the main grid and does not need to be recharged. This might have a downside to it because if there is a central fault at the grids, a power supply is rendered useless.

Also, there a special types of battery chargers, what is known as a ‘Smart Battery Charger’. These battery chargers can supply electrical current based on the specifications and chemical composition of the battery.

Wonderful, don’t you think? Thus, regardless of if it is a Li-ion battery, a lead-acid battery e.t.c, these battery chargers, together with a smart battery can identify the specific voltage-current needed by the battery and supply according to its chemical composition. This is an advantage when considering the battery health and life of the device.

They are also able to detect temperature changes in the battery and switch of or reduce voltage output to what is known as ‘Trickle charge’- charging a device or an electrical load at the rate which it discharges.

The ability to detect temperature changes prevents the overheating of the battery and possible damage to the battery’s health. The same cannot be said for a power supply as it cannot perform any of these functions.

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Components Of A Battery Charger

A battery charger is made up of similar components to a power supply. This is one of the factors that allow it to function efficiently as a power supply. These components include;

  • Transformer: The transformer is a device employed to step up and step down current before transmission to an electrical load as well as to provide isolation between two or more circuits. They ensure the safe transmission of alternating currents at high voltage over distances to multiple circuits without significant loss as well as ensuring the dampening of the electrical current reaching the circuits to avoid damage to the electrical load.
  • Rectifier: A rectifier is a device that is used to convert alternating current to direct current voltage that is required to power the electrical load.
  • Inductor: The inductor saves as a filter during the voltage generation. During the transformation of alternating current to direct current that is transmitted to the electrical load, remnants of alternating current may be present-what is called ‘RIPPLE’. Ripple currents are damaging to the battery health thus, need to dissipate and that’s where the inductor comes in.
  • Capacitor: The capacitor also works as a filter, hand in hand with the inductor to dissipate ripple voltage.
  • Regulator: The purpose of the regulator is to keep voltage output within the suitable range required by the electrical load or appliance to prevent overloading or overcharging of the device.

Types Of Power Supply

According to the type of current being supplied, there can be divided into the following:

  1. Linear power supply: With this power supply, a large transformer is required to initially filter the primary alternating current before transmission to the rectifier thus, this unit is quite large, less efficient, and inflexible as it is unable to freely switch on and off the output voltage, unlike the switched power supply.

The Linear regulated power supply is a more improved version of the linear power supply. The difference is that the output direct current is also regulated with the excess current produced being removed.

This helps to safeguard both the power supply and electrical appliance. It also reduces the noise that accompanies voltage output.

They can be applied in:

  • Signal processor.
  • Laboratory test equipment.
  • Data acquisition sensors e.t.c
  1. Switched power supply: with this class, the current is freely stepping up and down the unregulated output voltage to suit the required voltage of the electrical appliance to avoid overloading thus, it can be used for more delicate equipment. It is also less bulky and more efficient when compared to the linear power supply. However, when compared to the linear power supply, they are quite complex and require a level of expertise to operate. They are also very noisy thus can not be used in noise-sensitive areas. They can be applied in:
  • Marine equipment and application.
  • Manufacturing and testing of equipment.
  • Waste treatment e.t.c

Other forms of power supply include:

  • AC- Power Supply.
  • DC-Power Supply.
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply.
  • Programmable Power Supply.

Applications Of A Battery Charger

The major use of a battery charger is to provide electrical energy for small-capacity batteries. However, with the ever-evolving technology, it can be applied in the following sectors:

  • Transportation: Battery chargers have been employed in modern transportation to preserve the batteries in cars, boats. With the advent of electrical cars i.e. Tesla, battery chargers have become more sought after as they can serve as an emergency power supply to prevent your car battery from completely discharging which is damaging to the battery’s health.
  • Medicine: With the evolution of modern medicine, the need for an uninterrupted electrical supply has become paramount. Battery chargers can be used to recharge a variety of medical and surgical equipment such as surgical drills, defibrillators, ultrasound and imaging machines, dental machines e.t.c.
  • Business: Technology is being used in every aspect of life including the business sector. With this, comes the ever-growing need for a constant power supply. Battery chargers can serve as an emergency source of power for devices such as laptops to avoid interruption of one’s activities.
  • Household activities: Various household appliances can be powered using a battery charger. A simple 12v battery charger can charge a good number of our appliances such as television sets, microwave oven, lights e.t.c. A battery charger of as low as 3.7V(a power bank) can be used to power mobile phones.
  • Agriculture: The world is evolving at a rapid rate and the agricultural sector is not being left behind. With this evolution comes the increased dependence on electricity as a source of energy therefore, an interruption in the power supply may have deleterious effects on the farm. Battery chargers can be used as a backup electrical source to power various farm equipment ranging from sprays used in fertilizer applications, lighting in livestock housing to tractors e.t.c.

Can I Use A Battery Charger As A Power Supply – Conclusion 

In conclusion, a power supply is an electrical component that makes available the electrical energy required to power electrical loads and appliances.

It is the core of an electrical system. Therefore, a battery charger can be efficiently used as a power supply as it not only has a similar make-up to a power supply but can also convert its chemical energy to electrical energy required to power an electrical load.

So long as it can meet the voltage-current requirement of the electrical load, a battery charger can serve as a power supply.

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